Pele, Di Stefano, Garrincha, Puskás in the 1950s, Maradona in the 1980s or Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldinho, Messi and Ronaldo in the last 20 years, we were lucky enough to witness the best footballers in the world.
Picking a top 20 is a challenge as there are so many deserving players on the planet right now. Players are listed based on their performance throughout the year, here is a list of the best soccer players in the world.
1. Robert Lewandowski — Barcelona FC/Poland
Robert Lewandowski is a Polish professional footballer who plays as a striker for the Spanish club Barcelona and is the captain of the Polish national team. He is one of the best strikers in the world and has been voted the best footballer by FIFA in 2020.
Lewandowski began his career at Znicz Pruszków, making his senior debut in 2006. He transferred to Lech Poznań in 2010 and won the Polish Cup in his first season. He then moved to Borussia Dortmund in 2010, where he won the Bundesliga title in his first season. He also won the DFB-Pokal in his second season and was part of the team that reached the 2013 UEFA Champions League Final.
In 2013, Lewandowski signed for Bayern Munich for a then-record transfer fee of €37 million. He won the Bundesliga title in each of his first five seasons at the club and was part of the team that won the Champions League in 2020. He also won the DFB-Pokal in his first three seasons at the club.
Lewandowski has scored over 300 goals in his career and is the all-time top goalscorer for both Bayern Munich and the Poland national team. He is the only Polish player to have won the Bundesliga Player of the Year award, and was named the Polish Footballer of the Year a record seven times.
In 2020, he was named by The Guardian as one of the world’s best footballers.
2. Lionel Messi — Paris Saint - Germain/Argentina
Lionel Messi is widely considered one of the best footballers in the world, and his performances for club and country over the past few years have only served to cement that reputation. The Argentine attacker is currently plying his trade with French giants Paris Saint-Germain, but he has also enjoyed tremendous success with his national team, winning the World Cup in 2014.
Messi’s individual talents are undeniable and he has regularly been the driving force behind whatever team he has been playing for. His goalscoring record is truly staggering, as is his ability to create chances for his teammates. Messi is also a superb free-kick taker and his vision and passing range make him a constant threat when he is on the ball.
Few players in world football can match Messi’s all-around ability and he is rightly considered one of the very best in the business. It is no surprise that he is so highly regarded by both his peers and the wider footballing world.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United/Portuguese
Cristiano Ronaldo, the world’s most famous footballer, is a player who always seems to be in the headlines, whether it’s for his performances on the pitch, his personal life, or his commercial deals. The Portuguese international is currently in his mid-30s but shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
He started his career with Sporting Lisbon before being snapped up by English giants Manchester United in 2003.
Ronaldo quickly established himself as one of the best players in the world during his time at Old Trafford, winning multiple Premier League titles, the Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup.
In 2009, he moved to Spanish giants Real Madrid for a then-world-record fee of £80 million. At Madrid, Ronaldo has won everything there is to win, including four Champions League titles and two La Liga crowns.
He has also been named FIFA’s World Player of the Year on three occasions and is the all-time leading goalscorer in the history of the Champions League.
Ronaldo is currently in his fourth season at Juventus, where he has helped the club win the Serie A title in his three campaigns so far. There is no doubt that Ronaldo is one of the greatest footballers of all time and he shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
4. Kevin De Bruyne — Manchester City/Belgian
One of the most creative and talented players in the world today, Kevin De Bruyne is a joy to watch on the football pitch. Possessing superb technique and vision, the Belgian playmaker is a master of picking out pinpoint passes and unlocking defence. He is also a very dangerous goalscorer, as he showed last season when he netted 21 goals in all competitions for Manchester City.
De Bruyne is a key player for both club and country, and played a starring role as Belgium reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup. He is currently one of the best players in the world, and it is no surprise that both Pep Guardiola and Roberto Martinez so highly regard him.
5. Karim Benzema – Real Madrid/France
Karim Benzema is one of his generation’s most prolific and gifted strikers. The French international has been a key player for Real Madrid for over a decade, winning four Champions League titles and three La Liga crowns.
Benzema is a clinical finisher who is equally adept at creating chances for others. His movement and link-up play are superb, and he is a master of the first-time finish. He has also shown his versatility by operating effectively as a winger or a deep-lying forward.
Benzema is still only 31, but he has already scored over 200 goals for Real Madrid. He is a true legend of the club, and there is no doubt that he will go down as one of the greatest players in its history.
6. Neymar — Paris Saint-Germain/Brazil
Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, commonly known as Neymar Jr. or simply Neymar, is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays as a forward for Paris Saint-Germain of France and the Brazilian national team. He is widely regarded as one of the best players in the world.
Neymar rose to prominence early at Santos, where he made his professional debut at the age of 17. He helped the club win two consecutive Campeonato Paulista championships, a Copa do Brasil and the 2011 Copa Libertadores, Santos’ first continental title since 1963. Neymar was named South American Footballer of the Year twice, in 2011 and 2012, before moving to Europe with Barcelona.
With Barcelona, Neymar won the continental treble of La Liga, the Copa del Rey, and the UEFA Champions League, in the 2014–15 season, followed by the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup in 2015. He then attained individual records, becoming the club’s all-time top goalscorer in La Liga and the Copa del Rey. Neymar’s €222 million transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in August 2017 made him the world’s most expensive player.
At Paris Saint-Germain, Neymar has won two Ligue 1 titles, a French Cup, and a French League Cup. Neymar is the Brazilian national team’s all-time leading goalscorer and has also won Olympic gold with Brazil at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Neymar is known for his dribbling, finishing, and ability with both feet. He has earned comparisons to Pelé and Lionel Messi, and has been described as the most electrifying player in the world.
7. Kylian Mbappe — Paris Saint Germain/France
Kylian Mbappé is a French professional footballer who plays as a forward for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain and the France national team. He is widely considered as one of the best players in the world, and has been described as a “phenomenon” by many in the sport.Born in Paris, Mbappé began his football career with AS Bondy, before joining Paris Saint-Germain in 2013. After loan spells with Ligue 2 clubs Lille OSC and AS Monaco, he returned to PSG in 2017 and helped the club win the Ligue 1 title, their first domestic league title since 1994. In the 2018–19 season, he won the Ligue 1 Player of the Year and was a member of the 2018 FIFA World Cup-winning France national team.
Mbappé is known for his finishing, dribbling, and pace, as well as his ability to play with both feet. He has been compared to several past and present footballers, including Pelé, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi.
8. Virgil van Dijk — Liverpool FC/Netherlands
Virgil van Dijk is a Dutch professional footballer who plays as a centre-back for English club Liverpool and captains the Netherlands national team. Van Dijk is widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the world, and was a key member of the Liverpool team that won the 2018–19 UEFA Champions League, their first since 2005. He was also named the 2019 UEFA Men’s Player of the Year, becoming the first defender to win the award.
Born in Breda, Netherlands, Van Dijk began his professional career with Dutch side Groningen in 2009. He moved to Scottish club Celtic in 2013, where he won the Scottish Premiership and Scottish League Cup. In 2015, he transferred to Southampton, where he helped the club to an eighth-place finish in the Premier League. In January 2018, Van Dijk transferred to Liverpool for a then world-record fee for a defender of £75 million. In his first season at the club, he won the Champions League and was runner-up in the Premier League.
Van Dijk is a tall, physically imposing, and left-footed centre-back, who is known for his strong aerial ability, ball-playing abilities, and leadership. He has also been praised for his positional sense, work-rate, and tactical intelligence.
9. Sadio Mane — FC Bayern Munich/Senegal
Sadio Mane is a Senegalese professional footballer who plays as a winger for Bundesliga club Bayern Munich and the Senegal national team. He is widely considered to be one of the best footballers in the world.
Mane began his career with French club Metz in 2011. He spent two seasons with the club before joining Red Bull Salzburg in 2012. He spent two years with Salzburg, winning the Austrian Bundesliga and Austrian Cup in 2014. In 2015, he joined Premier League club Southampton for a fee of £11.8 million. He spent one season with the club, scoring 10 goals in 36 appearances, before joining Liverpool in 2016 for a fee of £34 million.
Mane has been a key player for Liverpool since joining the club, helping them to win the UEFA Champions League in 2019 and the Premier League in 2020. He has also been named the African Footballer of the Year twice, in 2016 and 2020.
Mane is a quick and skilful winger who is known for his ability to beat defenders and get in behind them. He is also a good finisher, and is known for his accurate crossing.
10. Erling Haaland — Manchester City/Norway
Erling Haaland is a young, talented striker who has taken the football world by storm. Hailing from Norway, Haaland began his senior career with Molde FK before making a big move to German giants Borussia Dortmund. He has since scored an impressive 86 goals in 89 games for Dortmund, earning a move to Manchester City worth 63 million euros. Haaland is known for his pace, flexibility, and strength, and is considered one of the best young footballers in the world.
11. Mohamed Salah — Liverpool FC/Egypt
It would be hard to overestimate Mohamed Salah’s impact on Liverpool Football Club since he joined the Reds in 2017. The Egyptian winger has been nothing short of a revelation, scoring an incredible goals in his first two seasons at Anfield.
Salah’s performances have not only helped Liverpool to challenge for major honours, but have also seen him rise to global superstardom. He was named African Footballer of the Year in 2017 and 2018, and is widely regarded as one of the best players in the world.
Such is the extent of Salah’s impact that he has even been hailed as a ‘messiah’ by some Liverpool fans.
However, while Salah has been a huge success on the pitch, it is his off-field persona that has endeared him to so many people. He is a humble and down-to-earth individual, who is always quick to praise his teammates.
Salah is a breath of fresh air in a world of self-promoting egomaniacs. He is a role model to millions, and an inspiration to aspiring footballers all over the world.
Liverpool are fortunate to have a player of Salah’s calibre in their ranks, and he has already cemented his place as a club legend.
Who knows what the future holds for Salah, but one thing is for sure – he has already made a massive impact on Liverpool Football Club, and will go down as one of the greatest players in the club’s history.
12. Jorginho – Chelsea/Italy
Jorginho has been one of the most famous footballers in the world for the past few years. The Chelsea and Italy midfielder is known for his superb passing ability and has been a key player for both club and country.
Jorginho began his career with Brazilian side Verona, before moving to Italy with Napoli in 2013. He quickly established himself as one of the best midfielders in Serie A, and helped Napoli to a second-place finish in the 2016-17 season.
In 2018, Jorginho made the move to Chelsea, where he has continued to impress. He has been a key player for the Blues, helping them to win the 2018-19 UEFA Europa League.
Jorginho is a superb ball passer and is known for his composure and vision. He is also a excellent penalty-taker, and has scored some important goals for both club and country.
Jorginho has been a key player for Chelsea and Italy.
Jorginho is a popular figure both on and off the pitch, and is known for his outgoing personality. He is a regular social media user, and often interacts with fans online.
Jorginho is a talented footballer who has achieved much in his career. He is a popular figure both on and off the pitch, and is sure to continue to entertain fans around the world for many years to come.
13. N’Golo Kante – Chelsea/France
N’Golo Kante is a professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Premier League club Chelsea and the French national team. He is widely regarded as one of the best players in the world, and has been included in several lists of the best footballers of the 21st century.
Born in Paris, Kante began his professional career with Boulogne in 2012. He joined Caen the following year, and helped the club gain promotion to Ligue 1. He then moved to Leicester City in 2015, where he played a pivotal role in the club’s historic Premier League title win. He was named the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and the FWA Footballer of the Year, becoming the first African player to win either award.
Kante joined Chelsea in 2016, and went on to win the Premier League title in his first season with the club. He has also won the FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League, and has been named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year on three occasions.
At international level, Kante has represented France at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, where he helped his country to lift the trophy.
Kante is known for his tireless work ethic, and is often lauded for his humble and unassuming personality. He has been described as a “complete midfielder”, and is considered to be one of the best in his position.
If you’re looking for a role model on and off the pitch, you need look no further than N’Golo Kante.
14. Bernardo Silva – Manchester City/Portugal
Bernardo Silva has been one of the best footballers in the world for the past few years. The Manchester City and Portugal star has been a key player for both club and country, and has helped them to a number of trophies.
Bernardo Silva was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1994. He started his career with Portuguese club Benfica, before moving to AS Monaco in 2014. He helped Monaco to win the Ligue 1 title in 2017, and also reached the Champions League semi-finals that year.
In 2017, Bernardo Silva joined Manchester City for a fee of £43 million. He has since won the Premier League title twice, the FA Cup, and the League Cup. He has also been named in the PFA Team of the Year on two occasions.
Bernardo Silva has also been a key player for Portugal. He helped them to win the European Championship in 2016, and was named in the team of the tournament. He has also represented Portugal at the 2018 World Cup.
Bernardo Silva is one of the best footballers in the world, and is a key player for both Manchester City and Portugal.
15. Dusan Vlahovic – Juventus/Serbia
Dusan Vlahovic is a Serbian professional footballer who plays as a striker for Serie A club Juventus and the Serbia national team.
Vlahovic started his career at Partizan, where he made his senior debut in 2014. He spent two seasons at the club, before joining Fiorentina in 2016. He spent four seasons in Florence, scoring 34 goals in 111 appearances. In 2020, he joined Juventus on a five-year deal.
Vlahovic has represented Serbia at youth level, and made his senior debut in 2019. He was a member of the Serbia squad that reached the final of the 2020 UEFA European Championship.
Dusan Vlahovic is one of the most popular footballers in the world. He is a talented striker who has scored some important goals for his club and country. Vlahovic is a player who always gives 100% on the pitch, and is a true team player. He is a popular figure with fans, and is known for his down-to-earth personality.
16. Ruben Dias – Manchester City/Portugal
Ruben Dias is one of the most popular footballers in the world. He is a Manchester City and Portugal player. He is known for his skills and his ability to score goals.Ruben Dias was born in Lisbon, Portugal on the 14th of April, 1995. He started his career with Benfica. He made his first-team debut for Benfica in the 2013-14 season. He played for Benfica for two seasons. In the 2015-16 season, he was loaned to AS Monaco. He made his debut for Monaco in the 2015-16 season. He played for Monaco for one season. In the 2016-17 season, he returned to Benfica. He won the Primeira Liga and the Taça da Liga with Benfica in the 2016-17 season.
In the 2017-18 season, he moved to Manchester City. He made his debut for Manchester City in the 2017-18 season. He has won the Premier League, the FA Cup, and the Carabao Cup with Manchester City.
Ruben Dias is a Portuguese international. He made his debut for Portugal in the 2014-15 season. He has been a member of the Portugal national team since the 2016-17 season. He has represented Portugal at the 2018 World Cup and the UEFA Euro 2020.
17. Harry Kane – Tottenham Hotspur/England
Born in 1993 in London, Harry Kane began his career at Tottenham Hotspur, where he has played his entire professional career so far. He is currently the captain of both Tottenham Hotspur and England.
Kane is a prolific goalscorer and is considered one of the best strikers in the world. He has won multiple individual and team awards, including the Premier League Golden Boot (twice), the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, and the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year.
Kane has represented England at senior level since 2015, scoring 28 goals in 41 appearances. He was a member of England’s squads at the 2018 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2020.
One of the most popular footballers in the world, Harry Kane is a talented striker who has enjoyed a successful career so far. He is sure to continue to be a key player for both Tottenham Hotspur and England in the years to come.
18. Vinicius Junior – Real Madrid/Brazil
Vinicius Junior, or VJ as he’s commonly known, is a name that’s on everyone’s lips right now – and for good reason. The 22-year-old has taken the world of football by storm since making his senior debut for Brazilian club Flamengo back in 2017.
Since then, he’s gone on to score 27 goals and provide 19 assists in just 60 appearances for the club. He was also part of the Flamengo side that won the Copa Libertadores in 2019, before making the move to Spanish giants Real Madrid in a deal worth up to €46 million.
It’s fair to say that VJ has made quite the impact since arriving in Madrid. He’s become a regular starter for Los Blancos and has already chipped in with four goals and three assists in 14 appearances.
But it’s not just his performances on the pitch that have impressed. VJ has also won over the hearts of Madrid fans with his infectious personality and his love for the club. He’s quickly become a fan favorite at the Santiago Bernabeu and is already being hailed as the next big thing in world football.
There’s no doubt that VJ is a special talent. He’s got everything you need to be a world-class footballer. He’s got pace, power, skill, and an eye for goal. He’s also got the personality and the character to match.
There’s no doubt that VJ is destined for big things in the world of football. He’s already well on his way to becoming one of the best footballers in the world and it’s only a matter of time before he’s lifting the biggest trophies in the game.
So, if you’re not already a fan of Vinicius Junior, now is the time to start following him. He’s a footballer that is sure to entertain and inspire for many years to come.
19. Federico Chiesa – Juventus/Italy
Federico Chiesa is an Italian professional footballer who plays as a winger for Juventus and the Italy national team. He is widely regarded as one of the best young players in the world, and has been compared to former Italy international Alessandro Del Piero.
Chiesa began his career with Fiorentina, making his professional debut in 2016. He spent four seasons with the club, making over 100 appearances and scoring 22 goals. In 2020, he transferred to Juventus for a fee of €50 million.
Chiesa has represented Italy at various youth levels and made his senior debut in 2018. He was part of the Italy squad that won the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and also represented his country at the 2019 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
Federico Chiesa is one of the most exciting young players in world football. A versatile winger, he can play on either flank or through the middle as a number 10. He is a skillful dribbler with an excellent first touch and is known for his pace, energy and directness.
Chiesa is an excellent finisher, and has an impressive goalscoring record for both club and country. He is also hard-working and committed player who is not afraid to put in a shift defensively.
A product of Fiorentina’s youth academy, Chiesa made his professional debut for the club in 2016. He quickly established himself as a regular starter, and was a key player in Fiorentina’s return to the UEFA Champions League in 2017/18.
Chiesa’s performances earned him a place in the Italy squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and he played a key role in the Azzurri’s victory in the tournament. He also featured prominently for Italy at the 2019 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, helping the Azzurrini to a runners-up finish.
In September 2020, Chiesa transferred to Juventus for a fee of €50 million. He has since made 16 appearances for the Bianconeri, scoring four goals.
Chiesa is widely considered to be one of the best young players in the world. A versatile and skilful winger, he is an excellent finisher with a great goalscoring record. He is also a hard-working and committed player, who is not afraid to put in a shift defensively. With Juventus, he has the opportunity to develop into one of the best players in the world.
20. Edouard Mendy – Chelsea/Senegal
Mendy is a 30-year-old goalkeeper who has established himself as one of the best in the business over the past few years. He originally made a name for himself in France with Reims, where he helped the club gain promotion to Ligue 1 and then kept them in the top flight for two seasons.
This earned him a move to Chelsea in 2020, where he has continued to impress. He has quickly become the first-choice goalkeeper at Stamford Bridge and has played a key role in helping the Blues to the top of the Premier League table.
Mendy is known for his excellent shot-stopping ability, which has been a key factor in Chelsea’s success this season. He has also shown himself to be a good communicator and leader, which has helped to solidify the Blues’ backline.
There is no doubt that Mendy is one of the best goalkeepers in the world right now, and he is sure to play a vital role in Chelsea’s push for silverware this season.